THE RCMP are getting unmanned helicopters to help probe crimes and assist with search and rescue. The DragonFlyer X6 has a camera attached. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA — They may be better known for riding horses, but the Mounties are trading the clack of hoofs for the whir of rotors with their newest investigative tool.
The RCMP is eyeing creation of a national fleet of small, drone-like helicopters fitted with cameras to help probe crimes, reconstruct traffic accidents and assist with search and rescue.
The unmanned aerial machines — which look like dragonflies with spinning rotors on top — have been used since late 2010 on a trial basis by officers in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
A platform at the bottom of the vehicle holds a remote-controlled camera. A pilot on the ground operates the craft and takes photos using special goggles that visualize what the camera sees. A second Mountie serves as observer, scanning the flight path for power lines and other hazards.
Each pilot must have a special flight operation certificate from Transport Canada.
The aircraft have proven useful for taking high-quality aerial photos and video of accident scenes, observing unfolding emergencies, and helping with major crime investigations, says the RCMP.
A unit tested in British Columbia, the Draganflyer X6 — made by a Saskatoon company — weighs only a kilogram. The craft and accessories cost about $33,000.
Read more: THE CHRONICLE HERALD Submitted: McGill